After two years of preparation, week after week of reviewing Bible verses, Sunday after Sunday of re-learning parts of the catechism, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation has arrived and been celebrated in fine style. What a joy to be able to share this milestone with you!
One question: Was our celebration the end or the beginning?
Like most things in life, I suppose the answer is 'both.' As the saying goes, every end is also a beginning. That's certainly true in this case.
It's the end of the focused time of preparation. It's the end of a particular Bible verse or section of the catechism for a month at a time. It's the end of the circuit-wide Reformation hymns of the month. But, hopefully, it's also the beginning. It certainly was, historically. The event that we've just celebrated wasn't the end of Luther's efforts, but the beginning. To be honest, based on the 95 Theses themselves, Luther wasn't actually quite 'Lutheran' yet. It did, however, mark the beginning of a movement that would have an enormous impact.
I'd like to think that it's also the beginning for us, as well. Think about all that we did to prepare for the day: we reconnected with God's Word, we rediscovered the catechism-- a fantastic presentation of the essential truths of God's Word-- and we reclaimed a bit of our Lutheran heritage by learning a number of hymns. If we allow those things to pass out of our lives, then we have serious problems. Why do we treasure our Lutheran heritage? Because Lutheranism is all about remaining focused completely and solely on Jesus Christ. Why is the catechism such a treasure? Because it so beautifully brings us the core and essence of God's Word: Jesus Christ. Why is God's Word so crucial? Actually, I'm pretty sure I don't need to even answer that question for you. You know very well that God's Word is how the Holy Spirit creates and sustains faith in us.
It's the beginning, in part, because we're not done talking about the Reformation quite yet. But, most importantly, it's a beginning because the things we celebrated are-- and always should be-- at the core of who we are as God's people.
Finally, let me leave you with one final thought: Only about 10 years until we start preparing for the 500th Anniversary of Luther's Small Catechism!
-- Pastor Stolarczyk